Patello-femoral pain syndrome

Do You Have Pain in Your Knee Cap? It Could be Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is Causing Major Issues for Athletes Living in Miami

Read our  physical therapy tips for overcoming knee pain caused from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

By: Eric Alexander DPT,OCS,MDT,CSCS

If you are an active individual there is a good chance at some point in your life you have experienced knee pain. In one report, over the past 30 days, at least 1 in 5 adults in the United States have cited some form of knee pain¹. One of the more common types of knee pain is called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). This is basically an umbrella term for knee pain that occurs at and around the patella, also known as the knee cap.

The knee cap is a bone contained within a tendon that facilitates movement at the knee. The knee cap slides within a groove in the femur during flexion and extension at the knee. It is thought that pain originates when the patella begins to ‘mal-track’ through this patellar groove in the femur and causes uneven forces through the bony surfaces. The mal-tracking is commonly attributed to muscular imbalances in the hips, thigh, and lower leg. Common populations presenting with PFPS include runners, bicyclists, and young athletes. Pain can typically intensify by sports, walking, running, stair climbing, or sitting for a long time, often called the “Movie-Goers Sign.”

One research article, in particular, has demonstrated the importance of lateral hip strength in relation to knee alignment with activity². College athletes were followed over the course of an athletic season. The athletes who experienced knee and ankle injuries throughout the season all shared two things in common: a weakness of the hip abductors and external rotators of the hip. Any weakness of these muscles during activity can allow your knee to drop-in towards the midline during motion, known as genu valgum, facilitating mal-tracking of the patella and PAIN.

The muscles in question are the gluteus medius, piriformis, and smaller external rotators of the hip. There are a few key exercises that you can add to your normal exercise routine that will help strengthen these muscles in question. These exercises include:

Side-lying Leg Raises

Hip External Rotation Clamshells

Side Planks

Three sets of fifteen reps (3×15) of the side-lying leg raises and clamshells coupled with two sets of thirty to sixty-second holds (2×30-60”) in the side plank position will target these muscles and assist in strengthening. Perform these exercises three to four times a week for six to eight weeks to allow for appropriate strength gains.

If you are experiencing knee pain or know someone who does, Fox Physical Therapy board-certified therapists deliver full biomechanical screens during the evaluation process to specifically identify which structures are at fault. Schedule you consultation today at 305-735-890 or click here.

Resources:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Reporting Joint Pain or Stiffness, — National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2006. MMWR 2008:57(17);467.
2. Leetun, DT, et al. Core Stability Measures as Risk Factors for Lower Extremity Injury in Athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol. 36, No. 6, pp. 926–934, 2004.